By Brad McHargue
When I was seventeen years old I saw a midnight screening of the The Blair Witch Project in Sarasota, Florida at a tiny indie theater downtown. After leaving the film I went home to a pitch-black, dead-silent house, terrified out of my mind. Although no doubt bolstered by my post-film living arrangements, much of the fear drawn from that film comes from the cinema verite style in which it is shot. Not only are the characters in the film, but you, the viewer are as well, acting as a part of the story by seeing the action unfold through their eyes. It is real horror, and it possesses all the elements to construct a truly terrifying story.
This is one of the many, many reasons writer/director/editor Oren Peli succeeds so admirably with his film Paranormal Activity. Completed in 2007 and rumored to possess several different endings, this film, although not flawless, is as close to perfect as you can get with a horror film. The concept of the film is simple: a young woman, Katie, has been experiencing some rather disturbing paranormal events lately – odd bumps, creepy vibes, and, strange whispers in the night -- and her boyfriend Micah sets up a camera in their living room in an attempt to record evidence of paranormal activity. Although she firmly believes that what is happening is real, he is skeptical. But the camera never lies.